A general tip on how to do an online business in Romania? An offline business only partially related to online – this is the solution recommended by Călin Fusu. In his example, BestJobs (a site similar to Monster.com) sells jobs not only online, but uses its selling team to sell the business idea to off-line businesses. Zumzi (a Groupon-style business) does a lot of interactions off-line. He actually says that “‘nu concura niciodata cu jucatorii internationali pe segmente unde softul este esential’ – poti concura pe domenii unde vanzarile sint de baza (bestjobs/zumzi) sau unde contentul este de baza (trilulilu).” So, avoid facing having Facebook as a competition, but do create a business in which you can compete with either content or selling force. (from here »)
Examples: eMag and F64, both, have off-line and on-line businesses at the same time. PC Garage built an on-line & off-line community. GroupOn & Job web sites & Major Real Estate Portals have a strong focus on Sales, not just online. Other businesses go for local partnerships, small franchise businesses (Flori De Lux)
A hint in online businesses in Romania? Romanians prefer to trust people, rather than go for professionalism. Networking, previous experience with the brand, brand recognition, they all matter more than the quality of the product & service. On the long run, you need these, but the initial impact is much more on emotions than on the quality of service / product. Remember this when planning a new product / idea. It matters more to work on brand / image, at least in the sales /development part of the business, rather than on performance / quality. You can see this best in political advertising, Romanian slogans are aimed at “Trust”, while some ads I’ve seen in German political campaigns focused on “Professionalism”. Also, in the US market people value portfolio, in Romania it matters who knows you. I assume this will change as the Romanian market becomes more education and gains more experience, but this is, to me, the current sad truth.
If you want to do an International business, see how Canva.com got good results ». It’s an inspiring business model, they solve a problem anyone has, in a simple & effective way, with good ratio between free and premium content, with a good incentive to go premium. A book on this, with lots of details & very inspiring »
Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues: IMRo. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org and reply to the confirmation email.